Punakaiki is on the South Island's West Coast. To get there you will drive along the Coast Road which is one of the most spectacular coastal drives in the world. The Punakaiki township is quaint and friendly with cafes, craft shops, a visitor cent... Show More
Tourist Information About Punakaiki
Punakaiki is on the South Island's West Coast. To get there you will drive along the Coast Road which is one of the most spectacular coastal drives in the world. The Punakaiki township is quaint and friendly with cafes, craft shops, a visitor centre and plenty of parking. Famous for its spectacular Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. The limestone formations were formed 30 million years ago! Today, around high tide, the ocean swells force large amounts of water and compressed air to race upward through the vertical shafts. The result is a hissing, thunderous raw that creates a geyser-like plume of saltwater. In a strong westerly swell, this creation of nature is a very impressive sight. Other activities include horse trekking, canoe adventures, caving and guided tours plus many more things to see and do.
Best Attractions and free things to do in Punakaiki
1. Glow Worm Cave Tour
Have a wonderful, gorgeous adventure within the Ananui Glow Worm Caves, full with historical legends and beauty. Discover the natural splendor of this Cave's Wonderland. The ancient tubes we journey through are part of one of New Zealand's greatest cave systems, full with stalagmites and stalagmites. It's a return stroll out of the Cave tunnels once you've visited the Main Entrance, where you'll see an amazing display of Glow Worms. The best part about this trip is that you get to see the formations twice! Return to the lovely Café in Charleston via our adorable small jungle trains for a hot cup of coffee and lunch with our amazing café staff.
2. Underworld Rafting
This award-winning Underworld Rafting excursion will take you on a spectacular journey of discovery through the Ananui GlowWorm Caves. In the historic upper levels of the huge Ananui GlowWorm Cave system, discover an untamed calcite paradise of stalactites and stalagmites. Then enjoy tubing on the pristine Waitakere / Nile River while floating among fantastic galaxies of GlowWorms. In the Underworld Adventure Center in Charleston, return on the Rainforest Train to a hot shower and their friendly Café'.
3. Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
On the Great Coast Road, there are numerous fun and free things to see that make the long drive worth it. Between Greymouth and Westport, the Great Coast Road is a lovely drive, but most visitors will enjoy a half-day trek to the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. A sealed 20-minute circular walk immediately off the highway leads to the seaside attraction with pancake-shaped limestone formations. If you want to view the finest blowhole displays, go while the tide is high. Stop through Motukiekie or Rapahoe Beach on your way back.
4. The Hokitika Gorge
Hokitika, a former gold mining town, is the principal tourism center on the West Coast, embracing a wild and rugged stretch of coastline with clear views over the peaks of the Southern Alps to the east. It's a hub for pounamu (New Zealand greenstone) manufacture, with a slew of boutiques displaying a wide range of pounamu jewelry and carvings, as well as a slew of other local artisan shops.
Lake Kaniere, just outside of town, offers excellent swimming and boating options, while Hokitika Gorge, with its azure water and deep native forest, makes for excellent half-day walks.
5. Lake Brunner
Inland from Greymouth is a hidden treasure that few West Coast visitors are aware of. Lake Brunner is a magnificent sight in the foothills of the Southern Alps, sculpted by glacier carving. A half-hour drive from Greymouth will bring you to the lakeside community of Moana, where you'll discover a variety of short treks to enjoy the scenery. You may also just have a picnic by the lake if you're wanting a more low-key day!
6. Punakaiki Cavern
Check out this interesting free-access cavern off the main road! A small wooden stairway leads into the subterranean entrance, where you may explore 138 meters of tunnels, each turn with an amazing photo-op. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for stalactites and glowworms!
7. Punakaiki Beach
Spend some time skimboarding on the beautiful Punakaiki Beach. Driftwood, as well as intriguing seabirds including gulls, terns, and oystercatchers, adorn this beach. Choose the Punakaiki River lagoon mouth for swimming! Punakaiki Beach is also a great place to see the sunset on the West Coast.
8. Paparoa National Park
There are quite a few popular treks in Punakaiki and Paparoa National Park, but there's so much more to see and do on foot! Hike down the beautiful Pororari River for 1 hour and 30 minutes, a 3-hour loop, or a 5-hour hike. The multi-day Inland Pack Track or the shorter Ballroom Overhang hike are additional options.
9. Drive Along the Coast Road
Punakaiki is in the center of the Coast Road, which runs down the coast between Charleston and Runanga in the north and south. The journey takes 90 minutes, but we recommend driving it slowly and stopping at a few lookouts and small villages along the way to appreciate the scenery.
10. Experience Haast Package Deal
Discover the real New Zealand in Haast! Enjoy Haast with this amazing package that includes lodging, food, and local activities. This package will give you a taste of Haast Lane life! Meet some of the people, learn about the area, relax and unwind, all while exploring the area and marveling at the pristine untamed west coast nature.